Measuring hospital quality requires understanding what a hospital is

Many programs–such as Medicare’s Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (HVBP) program–aim to reward hospitals with high quality through higher reimbursement and penalize hospitals with low quality through lower reimbursement.  Will this approach be successful? A commentary by McMahon and Howell (2017) says that hospitals are not really unified entities but rather a collection of workshops. Thus, the…

Why are hospital prices crazy?

Sarah Kliff of Vox has an interesting article looking at hospital pricing.  She provides examples of $629 for a Band-Aid in an emergency department to over $3,000 to look at a bruised finger. Part of these high costs are not just physician time and treatment materials but a facility fee.  The facility fee is basically the…

Why do physician practices join value-based payment initiatives?

Are physicians ready for value-based payment? That is the question a recent paper by Markovitz et al. (2017) attempts to answer. This question is not hypothetical as the Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (MACRA) requires physicians to choose between the current fee-for-service structure under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or…

Health care market concentration

One question is whether more physician concentration is a good thing.  On the one hand, larger practices could lead to more efficient care. On the other hand, larger practices could give providers more market power and could drive up prices. A separate question is whether federal authorities could do anything about increased physician market concentration.…

The market works!

In 2011, CMS created a demonstration to have competitive bidding for durable medical equipment (DME).   Prior to the implementation of this program, CMS used an administrative fee schedule, similar to how physicians are currently reimbursed.  How did this market-based solution fare?  A paper by Newman, Barrette, and McGraves-Lloyd (2017) answers this question. We compared…

Medicare’s value-based purchasing fail?

Value-based payment is the latest hot topic.  One question remains, however, does it work?  Does paying for quality improve quality.  A study by Zuckerman et al. (2016) finds that the hospital readmissions reduction program (HRRP) did appear to reduce re-hospitalization rates among the targeted conditions. What about the hospital value-based purchasing program (HVBP).  Beginning in…

Does more spending improve outcomes?

A number of studies have claimed that increased health expenditures may result in no better, or even worse outcomes.  For instance, a paper by Fisher et al. (2003) looking at patients with acute myocardial infarction, colorectal cancer, or hip fracture finds that “Quality of care in higher-spending regions was no better on most measures and…

Will MACRA kill small physician practices?

Depending on the source, 34% to 59% percent of physicians are employed in practices of less than 10 physicians.  On the other hand, 39% of physicians are employed by hospitals.  How will these proportions change over time? An interesting paper by Casalino (2017) examines the impact of the  Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) on…